Historicising the afterlife: local newspapers in the United Kingdom and the ‘art of prognosis’.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


The dominant debate surrounding the legacy local and regional newspaper industry is one of terminal decline. This justifies the response to the precipitous fall in advertising revenues of cost-cutting and closure. The effects of this ‘mini-max’ strategy, epitomised in the corporate-owned newspaper, are well documented (see, among others, Franklin and Murphy, 1991; Franklin, 2006; Ramsay and Moore, 2016). This paper suggests this strategy is underwritten by a collective amnesia which besets the industry. Histories of titles and people are mostly stitched uncritically into the mythologisation of the newspaper. This elevates what might be understood as discursive positions into industry lore. Thus normative conceptions such as being funded by advertising, go unchallenged.

An historical approach to the local newspaper , opens up alternative perspectives. Its development can be understood as a series of stages characterised by variances in the balance of power between content, audience and advertiser. As such, the crisis-hit advertising-led model, justified by a discourse of public service, is an epoch, rather than an end . This facilitates a deeper engagement with how the corporate newspaper arrived at the point it finds itself at today (see for instance Cestino and Matthews 2016), and an appreciation of alternative business models outside of the corporate stables. Together these enable us to dare to imagine a future for those legacy titles.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Companion to Local Media and Journalism
EditorsAgnes Gulyas, David Baines
PublisherRoutledge Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781351239943
ISBN (Print)9780815375364
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2020


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